Inspiration: Mexican Huichol Art

I’ve already talked a lot about Aboriginal Australian art and how much it’s inspired me in my own work. Their art has been inspiring me for most of my life, but just recently I also found the Huichol.

My sister and her boyfriend moved to a small town just north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in Nayarit about three years ago. After they had settled in a bit I flew down to visit with them (…and the beach). My sister had been telling me about the local artwork and how amazing it was, so one day we drove to the next town over for a weekend market where we were hoping to see some. Sure enough there were several booths set up… absolutely overflowing with color. The tables mostly consisted of yarn paintings and bead work and all of it was absolutely beautiful. I knew I’d found something really special as soon as I saw it.

I wish I could say more about the Huichol (Wixaritari) people, but the truth is I don’t know very much yet. I do know that they are an extremely old culture and struggling to remain intact. They retain their own language and religion, one based in Animism, and the designs of their art are direct reflections of that faith.

Some Huicholes have actually brought their art to wider audiences through galleries and exhibitions. One of my favorites is this:

It’s a Volkswagon Bug and it’s covered, absolutely covered, in over 2 million glass beads.

It’s name is Vochol (VW Bugs are called “Vochos” in Mexico). I’ve known about it for a while, but in one of those amazing coincidences I walked right into it one day! I was flying in to Denver International Airport (of all places..!) and as I was walking out of Arrivals I looked up and there it was, right in the middle of the floor. There was no lighting on it and only the tiniest display with it so it was easy to miss and I almost didn’t recognize it for what it was! I was geeking out and practically drooling all over it in the middle of the Airport… I got a few odd looks…

More traditional (and no less bad ass) Huichol bead art is normally done on carved wooden statues that are covered in Bee’s wax. Each little bead is pressed into the wax with a needle, one at a time.

There is also amazing beaded jewelry.

This is a super long post… but one last thing =)

For more information of Huichol you can check out the Wixarika Research Center.

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